"They like what they do. That's important."
Betty Staley, 7 Clinics with Buck Brannaman
Lessons are great, and I love them, but time alone with Leah allows me to tune into her and only her. And, that deepens our relationship.
Today, I watched a section on Disc 3 of, 7 Clinics with Buck Brannaman, before I went out to ride Leah. It was "Achieving a Soft Feel." There were several things that impressed me, in that section, besides the timing of the releases:
1.) It should be fun for the horse,
2.) Horses don't like trainers and we shouldn't aspire to be one. We should aspire to be horsewomen (men),
3.) It's a dance. (So, try not to step on your partner's feet!)
Our dance today started out a little funky. First off, while bending her head around, she started to move her feet. I held the pressure on the rein steady until she stopped, but it took her about 2 or 3 minutes. I was hoping she'd stop on her own, but I did end up saying, Whoa, real nice to her, and that's when she stopped. It taught me something about Leah and myself--we're a verbal duo. Good, bad, or otherwise, I'm going to start talking to her more.
From the funky, twirling dance, we moved to the walk. Our next door neighbors have a bunch of sheep and baby lambs, so she wanted to look over at them. What helped us was something my instructor taught me, always be "opening doors and walking through". It's just a matter of, "Here's a door, let's walk through. Here's another door, let's walk through." It gets her mind off the thing and onto the job.
The last thing we did was trotting, and it was hard for me to get the softness I was hoping for because she and I haven't fully come together in our understanding, but I was able to get her to a pretty steady speed that was easy to post, and have her maintain it for half way around the arena. On the side with the sheep, she'd speed up, so I did the going through doors trick, at the trot, and that helped her regulate. We did a lot of trot work, and she started to show signs of fatigue, so we ended on a good note.
At one point, about half way through, she did act like she might stop and resist, I could feel her locking up and she tossed her head at the trot, but I gave her a gentle squeeze, and she kept going forward. That was much better than what she did at our lesson on Tuesday. I was PROUD of her!!
Towards the end of our time, I asked her to walk again and, as we walked, I petted her neck, and bragged her up. She seemed pretty content and proud of herself...and I think that's a good way to get to liking what she does. I loved it!